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Focusing On Eagles' Tasks Ahead

Posted Jan 22, 2012

I watched a very entertaining day of Championship football. Entertaining, but not necessarily good football. Sour grapes, I know, but the focus here is on the Eagles ...

The most disappointing part of Sunday was, other than the fact that the Eagles weren't involved, is that the games weren't played at the highest level. Baltimore at New England was good stuff for the most part, but there were enough dropped passes and missed opportunities to know that neither team played its best game.

As for the Giants at San Francisco, it was really not good football at all. Defenses ruled the day, true enough, but the Giants won courtesy of two botched punt returns by the 49ers, an overachieving team that lived off its takeaway/giveaway margin all season.

So it's a repeat of New England and the Giants and excuse me if I find something else to do two Sundays from now.

Maybe by then the Eagles' plan will have more clarity.

The team's scouting contingent and most of the coaching staff, not including head coach Andy Reid, are in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl practices. It is a critical week for the Eagles on many levels, and the issues facing this team have been well documented.

Watching these playoffs, in general, the theme for winning is that the team that makes the fewest turnovers wins the game. Easy to figure, right? If that's the case, why can't we explain away the Eagles' season by pointing out the turnover difference and, in particular, the spate of giveaways early in the 2011 campaign?

I know that idea doesn't sit well at all with some Eagles fans, but it's probably true. The Eagles have enough talent to play in the Super Bowl. They have enough coaching. They didn't develop the chemistry until late, but it is there now. There are roster areas that you would like to improve, and the Eagles will try to do so, but is it possible that 8-8 and no playoffs comes down to turnovers, and nothing more?

Certainly, it comes down to quarterback. I couldn't help but think watching all of these games about Michael Vick and how he would handle the various situations. His mobility would be a plus, that's for sure. Teams are blitzing enough and bringing so much pressure that a quarterback who can move is a huge plus.

Vick has to be better with his ball security, and the Eagles have to be better in the red zone, for this offense to reach its peak in 2012. I understand that Marty Mornhinweg is a strong candidate to be a head coach in this league, either in Oakland or in Indianapolis, and if he leaves the Eagles will have a replacement ready, whether that means they promote from within or bring in a coach from the outside.

It really is going to come down to Vick. No. 1, he has to stay healthy. Eli Manning absorbed a beating from the 49ers, and Vick has to expect that in a playoff stretch run.  But the Eagles have a strong offensive line, a sound scheme, and they certainly have explosive players around him.

Vick's job is to distribute the football and minimize his mistakes. Can he sustain the kind of success he enjoyed early in 2010 to get the Eagles to a Super Bowl next season and then win it?

Ah, I'm dreaming about next season already. Can you blame me? We have a long, long couple of months ahead. The Eagles have their work to do. We're at the bottom of a ladder that has many rungs in a season.

I watched the games on Sunday after debating if I would. It was an absurd day on many fronts, perhaps the most notable of which was when my friend, a Cowboys fan, repeatedly spoke in glowing terms of the Giants and of Manning.

"Eli Manning for President!" he shouted at one point. "After Tony Romo, he's the best quarterback in the NFL."

That pretty much says all you need to know about Cowboys fans. How in the world could a Dallas fan root for the Giants? Disgusting.

But "disgusted" is how we all feel now. The Giants are headed back to another Super Bowl, and I give them a decent chance to beat New England. Who knows? It's one game for all the marbles.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have to make the right moves to put themselves in position to get there next year. I'm tired of writing about other teams in the playoffs. I want to be there for the full ride in the season to come.

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